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Lowe Column: Women's Golf Had Great Run Of Memories; Men's Turn At NCAAs Starts Friday

Lowe Column: Women's Golf Had Great Run Of Memories; Men's Turn At NCAAs Starts Friday

CARLSBAD, California — It seems like a good time to “Geaux Lowe” for as far as LSU is concerned, we are in the break between the women’s NCAA Championship and the men’s championship which begins on Friday here at OMNI La Costa’s North Course.

Just some thoughts about this run by the 2024 LSU Women’s golf team as the players fly home today from this venue. For people like Taylor Riley, it was just a ride home from dinner with the team last night as she lives here in San Diego. For three golfers – Aine Donegan, Ingrid Lindblad, Latanna Stone – this weekend will mean a trip to Lancaster (Pa.) Country Club for the United States Women’s Open which starts May 30.

Lindblad received an exemption for her receiving of the McCormack Medal by the USGA and the R&A for being the world’s top amateur. She will reach a full year as No. 1 next Wednesday when the rankings come out and will probably reach 53 weeks as the U.S. Open is expected to be her final amateur event before turning pro.

Stone, who had a great top 10 finish in the NCAAs and a match play win on Monday, will advance to the Open with an exemption based on being in the final match of the U. S. Women’s Amateur here in California in August 2023. The Riverview, Florida native has some amateur play left and without the NCAA results added in, she presently is No. 40 in the world.

Donegan, the native of Ireland, played a tremendous four rounds in the stroke play of the NCAAs, finishing fourth and showing she loves golf in this state after making the cut and having such a following at last year’s U.S. Women’s Open. Donegan was a break or two away from swinging that final match on Monday in the narrow 3-2 loss in the quarterfinals to Oregon.

Donegan has earned her spot in the Open for a second straight year by qualifying in one of those 36 holes marathons that in her case stretched over two days because of weather. But she won one of the two coveted spots for Lancaster and the way she’s playing could again earn some spotlight time. She is ranked 98th in the world and will be the senior leader of this Tiger golf team in 2024-25.

Carla Tejedo also wrapped up her career at LSU and a wonderful top 10 performance in the stroke play was a nice bow on her career. She will go home to Spain but return to LSU to finish up a couple of courses needed for her degree and watch her younger sister, Rocio, join the Tigers. Rocio by the way, is ranked No. 18 in the rankings.

April and May are my golf months in my work schedule when I get to watch the women in their post-season journey and over the years, I’ve seen a lot of great rounds of golf. I’ve seen the tears of joy and tears of sadness when it all ends. But that’s true in a lot of college sports. Someone is happy, someone is sad.

I know this – it has been an amazing journey for Carla, Ingrid and Latanna and those coaches, players and staff who have followed and been a part of that journey. Monday’s ANNIKA award ceremony was pretty special. To get to visit with the Hall of Famer Annika Sorenstam in person for a few moments was special. To see her excitement of getting to present her award to a fellow “Swede” as she said was very nice.

We mentioned it in the award story but the slit on the back of the trophy is a rather unique idea as they ask the winners to write down their thoughts and hope on where they will be in 10 years. The plan is to open all those at a special event in 15 years at the 25-year celebration. Ingrid said she wrote hers in Swedish. We’ll have her translate sometime down the road.

I kiddingly said the presentation was shrouded in secrecy and security around the Golf Channel room where the event was taped because it didn’t air until late Tuesday afternoon, but that was also because of Sorenstam’s schedule and the fact the result was not in doubt.

If she hadn’t won it this year, it would have been one of the bigger surprises in college golf which tends to have a few of these throughout the year. Now let’s see what other awards she will capture in the next few days and weeks.

On another subject, Garrett Runion has said it to me many times and I can’t disagree. He wanted to build a “program” when he became the head coach. He has certainly done that as this program has reached consistent national heights thanks to the golfers that wear the purple and gold and with increased TV interest and social media outlets.

Former Coach Karen Bahnsen still remains a dear and loyal friend of this program and it was great to have her at the NCAA Regionals and on site here at La Costa for Monday’s round. The players and coaching staff are happy to have her around.

In the last 12 months, consider this – LSU athletes have been recognized as best in nation in football (Heisman Trophy); baseball (Howser Trophy, Golden Spikes); gymnastics (Honda Award); and, now women’s golf (ANNIKA Award). That says a lot.

Yes, there were tears of sadness after the loss in the quarterfinals on Monday. But soon there were smiles and hugs and pictures; final memories of a great year and for some great careers.

When the championship match of the women’s finishes here in a few hours or probably as soon as the five matches clear each hole, the work will begin to lengthen this course by some 1,100 yards for the men’s event which begins early Thursday with practice rounds.

It’s the same routine for those that joined us for this past week for the women’s as 30 teams come into this North Course and we see how this course plays for the top men at about 7,400 yards. There have been some tee boxes with no access signs on them this week that if that’s where the players hit it from are going to mean some 230-250 yard carries on more than a couple of holes.

I know that’s nothing for a top college player but it makes the shots a little more interesting.

LSU will be making its 40th men’s NCAA Championship appearance here on Friday dating back to 1939 but it will be making its first since 2019. By my count only 13 NCAA schools have appeared in more championships and unlike the women, this thing dates back to 1939.

LSU has five national championships in men’s golf and everyone remembers that 2015 run at Concession in Florida when LSU captured its last title. By the way, that assistant coach on that team – some guy named Runion.

The Tigers under interim coach Andrew Nelson did a great job to get in position to be one of the 30 teams here in Carlsbad. The performance at the regional was one of guts and determination. I really think LSU put itself in a qualifying position in the second round, after starting the day in 10th. LSU posted a 1-over round of 287 at the University Club and moved up to one shot from the cut line while others were struggling in the conditions.

It was so exciting to see them make the championship round again. Now they have a lot of work to do to first make the top 15 cut after Sunday’s play and then who knows, but this is college golf. Things happen and LSU is going to tee it up starting Friday with as much chance as any team standing on the first or 10th tees.

Getting here is the battle. Now comes the time to play some championship golf.

We are still here (I may soon be paying California taxes) at La Costa and we’ll have the coverage for you on this web site ( and of course across our social platforms. Hope you’ll join us for some more golf this weekend. Fore please! Oh, and thanks for “Geauxing Lowe” with us.